Professor Rachel Bowlby


Rachel Bowlby

Education and Experience 

Rachel Bowlby has taught at the universities of Sussex, Oxford, York and Princeton and been a visiting professor at Cornell, Rutgers, Otago (New Zealand) and Paris 3 (the Sorbonne Nouvelle). In 2008 she gave the Gauss Seminars in Criticism at Princeton, and she was awarded a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship from 2011-13. She is a Fellow of the British Academy.

At UCL she was Northcliffe Professor of English from 2004, and now teaches mainly in the programme in Comparative Literature.

Her Yale PhD dissertation in Comparative Literature was on French, British and American novels about women and shopping. This became her first book, Just Looking.

Research Interests

Since her first book Just Looking, about department stores, Rachel has written further books on consumer culture, including Carried Away: The Invention of Modern Shopping, which is about the history of self-service and supermarkets. Shopping with Freud explored some connections between psychoanalysis and consumer psychology, a field of research that began at the same time as psychoanalysis, at the turn of the twentieth century. Other books have also looked at changing psychological and literary notions of selfhood: Still Crazy After All These Years: Women, Writing and Psychoanalysis, and Freudian Mythologies: Greek Tragedy and Modern Identities. A Child of One’s Own (2013) is about the changing modern stories and situations of parenthood, especially in relation to reproductive technologies.

Another long-term interest is in realism, both as a specific historical movement in the nineteenth century, and as an ongoing question about how different stories with different assumptions about characters and possibilities come to count as plausible—in the stories we tell all the time in ‘real life’ (and about it), as well as in literature proper. This is broadly the subject of Everyday Stories (2016).

She has written extensively about Virginia Woolf and has also translated a number of books by contemporary French philosophers, including Derrida’s Of Hospitality and Paper Machine.


Everyday stories A Child of One's Own  

Everyday Stories (Oxford University Press, 2016)

A Child of One's Own: Parental Stories (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013)

Freudian Mythologies: Greek Tragedy and Modern Identities (Oxford University Press, 2007)

Carried Away: The Invention of Modern Shopping (Faber and Faber, 2000)

Feminist Destinations and Further Essays on Virginia Woolf (Edinburgh University Press, 1997)

Shopping with Freud (Routledge, 1993)

Still Crazy After All These Years: Women, Writing and Psychoanalysis (Routledge, 1992)

Just Looking: Consumer Culture in Dreiser, Gissing and Zola (Methuen, 1985)

Edited Books

Editor with Introduction: Virginia Woolf, The Crowded Dance of Modern Life: Selected Essays, Volume 2 (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1993). Editor with Introduction: Virginia Woolf, Orlando (Oxford: Oxford World's Classics 1992).

Editor with Introduction, Virginia Woolf, Longman Critical Readers series (Harlow: Longman, 1992).

Editor with Introduction: Virginia Woolf, A Woman's Essays: Selected Essays, Volume 1 (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1992).

Recent Articles and Chapters in Books

‘Two interventions on realism’: ‘Untold Stories in Mrs Dalloway’ and ‘Versions of Realism in George Eliot’s Adam Bede’, Textual Practice 25:3 (2011): 394-436.

‘Introduction’ to new edition of Marion Milner, A Life of One’s Own (London: Routledge, 2011), pp. 13-32.

‘”Half Art”: Baudelaire’s Le peintre de la vie moderne’, Paragraph 34:1 (March 2011): 1-11.

'Commuting', in Restless Cities, ed. Matthew Beaumont and Gregory Dart (London: Verso, 2010).

‘Derrida’s Dying Oedipus’, on Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus, forthcoming in Miriam Leonard (ed.), Derrida and Antiquity (Oxford: OUP, 2010).

'"Speech Creatures": New Men in Pamela and Pride and Prejudice', in Theory-Tinged Criticism: Essays in Memory of Malcolm Bowie, ed. Diana Knight and Judith Still, special issue of Paragraph, 32:9 (July 2009): 240-51.

‘After Freud: Sophocles’ Oedipus in the Twenty-First Century’, in Timothy Mathews and Jan Parker (eds), Translation, Tradition, Trauma: The Classic and the Modern (forthcoming Oxford: OUP, 2009).

‘Psychoanalysis’, in Oxford Handbook of Hellenic Studies, ed. George Boys-Stones, Barbara Graziosi and Phiroze Vasunia (Oxford: OUP, 2009), pp. 802-10.

Translated Books - since 2000

Jacques Derrida, Paper Machine (Stanford: Stanford UP, 2005).

Jacques Derrida, Emmanuel Levinas, Jean-François Lyotard, Léon Poliakov, Luc Rosenzweig, Rita Thalmann, Pierre Vidal-Naquet, Questions for Judaism: Interviews by Elisabeth Weber (Stanford: Stanford UP, 2004).

Elisabeth Roudinesco, Why Psychoanalysis? (New York: Columbia UP, 2001).

Jacques Derrida, Of Hospitality (Stanford: Stanford UP, 2000).